Students gritted their teeth through the security checks into the careers' fair arena, as well as resisting the temptation to target other companies in a who's who of unethical companies (including defence contractors such as BAE Systems, and the Arcadia Group owners of notorious sweatshop high street brand Topshop) before congregating at the RBS stall. At an agreed time the students performed a mass die-in in and around the stall, dying on oil slicks to make the point about oil extraction and climate change already killing those in developing countries.
Security arrived promptly to remove protesters from the scene, protesters singing “Oil and Gas RBS” as they were removed from the fair. Some students were then questioned by security and the police, while others were taken outside and told to protest in a specially prepared pen outside the main entrance. Those being questioned were then removed from the premise, one was even threatened with arrest by police officers in order for them to obtain their name and address, and were informed that should they return they would be arrested, on rather legally dubious grounds.
Those in the “protest pen” outside were subjected to sniffer dog checks of bags for explosives, and also of persons for drugs in an attempt to try and pin more on the protesting students. Once this ordeal had been endured, with no shortage of cynical humour and gritted teeth, the remaining students continued to protest outside, and, despite a security presence, attempts to stop students using a megaphone, not being allowed to leave the pen without an escort, managed to engage members of the passing public in the campaign. Spirits were kept high with chants and songs before students decided to end the protest and were escorted out of the area by security.
While those who took part were satisfied with the day's protesting, police officers questioning and threatening participants with arrest as well as the use of sniffer dogs represents was a worrying development, especially in response to what was essentially a very fluffy direct action protest. However, protests against RBS at careers events will continue no matter how much they hide behind security and police. The campaign continues....